Tenants don’t count says Shapps

Last week the Metro carried a sensible article about the rise in the number of people being forced out of their homes by mortgage lenders or landlords.  16,600 properties were repossessed in the third quarter of 2011, a rise of 20%.

The article clearly pointed out, in the second paragraph, that ‘nearly half of the repossessions were carried out on behalf of mortgage lenders, while 5,140 tenants were evicted for social landlords and another 1,627 on behalf of private landlords.’  They quoted an expert claiming that the numbers would continue to rise as unemployment continued to bite.

So far no surprise, but the article provoked a little tantrum from our housing minister.  It was ‘Inaccurate and misleading’ he said.  And why?  Well, it was because the article was ‘lumping together statistics of homeowners, social tenants and private tenants’.  He then went on to say that the number of home owner repossessions was expected to be below the initial forecast made by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (good) and he set out the help the Government is offering to mortgage holders.

Now the original article was not about tenure but about people losing their homes, whatever their tenure and whatever their circumstances.  Each of those is a tragedy and, as the article said, it will get worse before it gets better.  From a human point of view, the loss of your home under forced circumstances has huge implications for any individual or family.  But there isn’t a hierarchy that says that repossession of a home owner is somehow more important than that of a social or a private tenant.  The whole feel of Shapps’ response is that the latter two don’t matter much, but look how much we care about home owners.  After all, the tenants probably deserved it.

So my advice to the Metro, well done on the article and carry on ‘lumping together’ people who are victims of the recession .  Counting people is always more important.  And getting up Grant’s nose proves that this time you got it right.

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